On February 13, 1947 (68 years ago) an epic oil discovery in the Leduc region of Central Alberta changed the economic landscape of the entire province and created a booming economy for generations to come. On this day each year, the Devon Historical Society, owner and operator of the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre located 2 Km south of Devon, celebrates this historic date and invites the community to join the founders and the museum’s supporters to tour the Centre, and partake in a festive day.
This year, the celebration attendance was a good size crowd of loyal supporters of this Oil and Gas museum, local dignitaries and first-time visitors, enjoying the free tours and warm hospitality of museum officials and numerous volunteers.
Landon Malec, a City of Leduc native, was hosting his own Luba’s Hotshot Oilfield Services safety meeting and field trip at Leduc #1. Enthusiastic about the venue, he happily shared that “without this historic oil discovery, we might all be doing vastly different jobs. The exhibits here have been very informative. Although we have been hauling oilfield tools to drilling rigs for a long time now, we have a limited knowledge of downhole drilling. This visit has educated our team on the innovations of science in our industry, especially throughout the last thirty years.”
Sheila Aitken, former two-term council member for the Town of Devon, was proud to be asked to conduct a tour for two visitors and was astonished to discover that she had a greater knowledge of oil and gas exploration and production than she thought she did, “all thanks to Dan Claypool and his many rich stories on this Industry, which I listened to carefully over the past several years!”
Dan Claypool, past president of the Devon Historical Society, recalled his ‘younger days’, when without any offshore or marine experience, he was hired in 1979 to manage the construction and operation of the Texaco Tartan Alpha 2 offshore drilling platform, erected on a 500 foot deep ocean, 100 miles away from Aberdeen Scotland, where he moved with his wife and two small children, returning two and a half years later to his home in Devon.
Mr. Claypool has been a vital part of the development and promotion of this award-winning museum, where dozens of displays and artifacts explain the oil industry to fascinated visitors and industry insiders.
The Museum offers a myriad of well-presented, interesting displays of national gas processing, instrumentation through the decades, drill-bits of many colors and sizes, oil sands production and reclamation and many man more, covering oil and gas exploration, extraction and processing. A huge library offers another artifacts display and an impressive collection of operating manuals and pertinent documents. Throughout the Museum, several videos run all day long; the NEXEN Devonian Explorer is a popular attraction, a Virtual Drill Bit that offers a fascinating and memorable ride hundreds of meters below and above the earth’s surface.
Cassandra Sampson is the Education Director who lends her youthful energy and teaching skills to the Centre, operating the Program and implementing new ideas, such as this year’s plan to create “Site Schools”, where teachers would teach on site for one week, taking advantage of various educational activities.
Leduc #1 has gained an impressive reputation among Alberta’s educators who each year seek interesting field trips for their students and teachers. The Education program includes a Learning Lab, retrofitted and moved to the Back Gallery a year ago, a popular Cenovus-sponsored Junior Roughneck Program attended by dozens of youths each summer and school tours designed to match the grade’s curriculum; Alliance Pipeline has committed to sponsoring the bussing program for the next 3 years.
Sheryl Lawrence is the congenial Executive Director who works tirelessly at managing and improving the Museum’s displays and offerings. She was pleased to see this day’s attendance, larger than last year’s. Corporate retreats are also a popular option at Leduc #1. More information is available by calling the Centre at 1-866-987-4323. She reminds us that local and regional Chefs are planning their teams and recipes for the ever-popular Annual Rib Cook-Off, scheduled for August 9, 2015.
Ed Rylander represented the City of Leduc for a 3-year term on the Devon’s Historical Society Board of Directors until January 2015, when Ross Golightly was elected to this position. Both men were happy to attend this celebration day and leisurely toured the Centre.
As many local and regional families get their beloved oilpatch worker’s name sponsored and displayed on the Wall of Fame, others discover a lovely connection within the museum walls. Leduc resident Julia Carter, a pre-employment program EA at Leduc Composite High School, was happy to show off her late father George Wilson, featured on a large and colorful mural in the Atlantic #3 Boardroom. Mr. Wilson was a worker on the Atlantic #3 relief well and Mrs. Carter grew up listening to fascinating stories of his many years and adventures in the oilpatch.
Volunteers, tour guides and sponsors are needed to inject fresh energy and support into this amazing oil and gas museum. We sincerely wish Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre continued success and prosperity for many generations to come.